Officials from the Obama administration this week turned down pleas from lawmakers and public-interest groups to place the names of Mexican drug cartels on their list of designated terrorist organizations.
The “terrorist organization” designation would give U.S. law enforcement agencies the authority to use such measures as the Patriot Act to crack down on suspected drug cartel members and associates using tools such as seizing their bank accounts or imposing harsher prison sentences for gun possession.
The issue arose during a House Homeland Security subcommittee hearing on border security. Top members of the U.S. House of Representatives on May 6 called on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to support the designation of certain Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations.
U.S. Rep. Peter T. King (R-NY), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, and Rep. Michael T. McCaul, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Management also requested that Secretary Clinton develop a comprehensive strategy to assist the Mexican government win their war against the violent and deadly cartels such as Los Zetas, who are suspected of murdering an American law enforcement agent.
As reported by the Law Enforcement Examiner, in a joint letter to Secretary Clinton, the Members wrote that “the Mexican drug cartels present a dangerous threat to the national security of the United States.”
The Members urged Clinton to “use every capability of the U.S. Government to counter this growing threat to our economy, our security and well being of our citizens. Equally as important, we must make sure Mexico does not become a failed state and yet another haven for terrorists.”
The Congressmen stated that the purpose of their letter was threefold:
* To bring to your attention the conclusions reached as a result of our March 31, 2011, Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Management hearing, “The U.S. Homeland Security Role in the Mexican War Against Drug Cartels.”
* To encourage support of H.R. 1270, designating certain Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations.
* To request that [the State] Department develop a comprehensive strategy with the overall goal of assisting the Mexican Government in their effort to win the war against the drug cartels.
According to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, “The massacres of young people and migrants, the killing and disappearance of Mexican journalists, the use of torture, and the phenomena of car bombs have received wide media coverage and have led some analysts to question if the violence has been transformed into something new, beyond the typical violence that has characterized the trade. For instance, some observers have raised the concern that the Mexican [Drug Trafficking Organizations] DTOs may be acting more like domestic terrorists.”
"This increased violence towards the Mexican Government, legal system and media threatens the very foundation of that nation. The threat of Mexico becoming a lawless haven should cause this Administration to seek the tools it needs to ensure the security of our border and provide assistance to our ally in the south," stated the Congressmen.
"The Mexican drug cartels present a dangerous threat to the national security of the United States. I strongly urge you to use every capability of the U.S. Government to counter this growing threat to our economy, our security and well being of our citizens. Equally as important, we must make sure Mexico does not become a failed state and yet another haven for terrorists."